Before getting started, I need to clarify something. As someone who identifies as cisgender, I cannot speak for or about the experiences of trans and nonbinary people. All I can do is use the resources I have and the concerns expressed by those I know to spread awareness.
Health care costs in the United States are through the roof. It’s hard enough trying to survive when hospitals, routine procedures, and medications are increasingly becoming inaccessible.
Add an oppressed identity to the mix and shake well to create a whole new type of barrier.
There are a myriad of ways that this manifests, but the bottom line of this particular rant is that trans and nonbinary individuals aren’t being given adequate health care. From the lack of information for small-scale processes such as chest binding (which can have major lasting health impacts) to much larger forms of discrimination, there are so many roadblocks that trans folk have to face in regards to health.
One of the most prominent factors in this system that prevents trans and nonbinary individuals from access to health care is the lack of coverage. Some insurances actively exclude transgender people from their policies, but that isn’t the sole reason for this disparity. Even when resources and options are given that allow those in the trans constellation to push back against discrimination, up to 31% of transgender Americans still lack regular health care. A lot of this is due to the poverty rates in the trans and gender nonconforming community which prevents those in need from accessing insurance and affordable health care. Workplace discrimination and unemployment are some of many factors that keep this community from being able to obtain safe and healthy lives.
Systematic discrimination aside, many trans individuals simply do not feel comfortable in professional health settings due to stigma and lack of education surrounding gender. Many diseases and illnesses that affect transmen such as cervical or ovarian cancer go undetected because doctors do not think to screen people who present as masculine. And, honestly, don’t even get started on the pregnancies of transmen (remember how the nation reacted to Thomas Beatie in 2007?). Likewise, prostate exams for transwomen are also under the radar. In addition to skipping out on important testing, those who work in the offices may often misgender their patients based on preconceived notions of what gender is supposed to look and sound like.
Just watch this video for some first hand accounts of what I’m describing:
While these stories do not represent all of those who identify as trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming in the US (let alone the world), it is a reality check in daily occurences that cisgender individuals do not have to consider.
So what can we do about this lack of health care for trans individuals?
One easy task is that we can all get more educated. We need to actively understand the issues and concerns of transgender and nonbinary people and advocate to change the system. This especially goes for any and everyone who are looking to work in or are currently operating in health fields.
Hopefully one day this article won’t be necessary. But until then, power to the queer community.